Monday, August 06, 2007

As economy collapses

As economy collapses …

Imperialists predict regime collapse & Mugabe threatens nationalization
We say … Mass Action now to kick out Regime & Imperialism!!!

Zimbabwe is at cross-roads as the economy rapidly heads for implosion. In June 2007 a Group of 34 International NGOs in Zimbabwe warned of economic collapse within six months. Outgoing US ambassador, “regime change” specialist, C. Dell, went further -
“We are closer to seeing change in Zimbabwe today generated from within than at any time since Independence... The acceleration of the economic collapse signifies an end-game for President Mugabe. The country’s inflation has doubled every month. In February independent analysts revealed that inflation was at 3 000%, while in March it doubled to 6000%. In April it was at 12 000% and currently it’s at 20 000%. By year-end the inflation rate will be at 1.5million percent…world-wide no government has survived presiding over inflation that had hit over seven digit levels.”
This is not mere talk by “imperialists.” In calling for an urgent Social Contract in February 2007, Reserve Bank Governor, G. Gono said the country was facing an unprecedented abyss. In the last two weeks of massive price increases of basic goods, such predicted economic now seems imminent, prompting the government to order the slashing by 50% of prices of all goods and services and impose a prize freeze. At the burial of Brig. General Gunda at the National Heroes Acre on the 27th June, conveniently chosen as it was the day of departure from office of Tony Blair, Mugabe threatened to nationalize all business that flout the price controls and jail the owners:
“Zvatirikuuya nazvo iyezvino tavakuomeserana. Kana to tinha, touya, whether you are bakers, producers, industry or commerce, take note, tinokuteverai. Ende hausi mutambo uchaitwa zvakanaka, it will be a rough game. Tavakusungana, you will be jailed. We will not be defeated by these tactics of regime change of the British …we will seize the mines and companies. We will nationalize them if they continue with these dirty games… we will take all the companies. Tinogona kuritambawo game iroro, ende tichimwisa futi, ne rough iyoyo.”
The question is whether this is just another toothless bark by the Mugabe regime or it means business this time or indeed the end-game has finally arrived for Mugabe?

Mugabe’s two choices
In the February 2003 issue of Socialist Worker we predicted that the main factor that would determine the future of Zimbabwe was the worsening economic crisis and how the main political actors would respond to this. We stated then that whilst Mugabe “was an intelligent and ruthless operative, capable of sophisticated and tactical shifts and the wrong-footing of his opponents, he and Zanu – PF are not immune from the tensions arising from the economic crisis, to which they have no solution.” We stated that the Mugabe regime had two choices: enter into a compromise deal involving a neo-liberal government of national unity of elites in Zanu PF and MDC supported by the West with Mugabe himself retiring or refuse to compromise politically, even as it proceeded with Gono’s neo-liberal programme and increased repression. We warned – that “the deepening of the neo-liberal agenda by a Mugabe government especially without the co-option of the MDC as a junior partner and acquiescence of the west would accelerate the economic crisis to the proportions seen in Argentina at the end of 2001 as local and international capital lay siege on the beleaguered regime…” As it were Mugabe chose the second option, especially with his decision to run again in 2008. And with it the climaxing economic crisis we see today. But does that mean he is finished?

Mugabe not finished
The imperialists have probably spoken too prematurely. Although in a corner the regime can still wiggle out by whipping business into line of complying with its social contract and not raise prices dramatically until elections next year. Mugabe is unlikely to want to nationalize as such given that his government is after all predominantly made up of bosses. But if business resists, as it has immediately done now by taking goods off the shelves, more radical measures are likely to follow. These may include a combination of nationalization, seizing some foreign businesses to give to his cronies under the guise of indigenisation or letting out Zanu PF hordes into selected shops. But Mugabe counts on the fact that business is likely to play ball being afraid of a repeat of the farm invasions and knowledge that he has the necessary two thirds parliament majority to amend the constitution. Given that the capitalists have been profiteering most will be prepared to weather a price control regime until election time rather than lose everything, giving the regime a powerful campaign tool. If Mugabe does not do the above indeed he is finished.
Not that Mugabe is totally averse to some kind of elitist compromise deal, for his retention of the neo-liberal Gono and his doling out of tractors to MDC leaders shows that he too is ready to compromise, but in a deal that leaves him and his party as the senior partners. But should business not co-operate or even should he lose the elections, one cannot discount the possibility of him hanging on to power by force and proceed to nationalize key sectors of the economy and try and survive on the basis of the N. Korean and Cuban models as he today threatens.

Struggle only way forward
So whilst the economic crisis in Zimbabwe is climaxing it is naïve to think it will lead to automatic regime change or election victory in March 2008. As we earlier stated: “It is not all that obvious which way Zimbabwe will go or that the bourgeois elites will have their way. The country is at unprecedented crossroads, a virtual precipice…It is quite possible that if the local elites fail to urgently strike a settlement …including the resolution of the Mugabe succession issue, Zimbabwe could easily go the way of the growing number of neo-colonial failed states, notably Cote D’Ivoire…”
But also equally important is that the present situation is pregnant with another possibility that the Dells, Mugabes and MDCs don’t talk about but is probably the most powerful method of dealing with the crisis: “On the other hand it is also possible that the working class could again, as it did in 1996 – 98, inspire the rest of the working people and sections of the middle classes into massive social and political struggles against the entire neo-colonial and neo-liberal capitalist state as we see happening in the anti-capitalist struggles in Latin America today. But such struggles require that the working class build appropriate organizations to lead the struggle and develop an independent revolutionary socialist class ideology that guides them to victory. Critical to this, is the transformation of trade unions into more democratic, united and accountable organs of workers and the building of a political united democratic front of all progressive sections of the working people, urban and rural, with clear class and ideological lines, unlike the broad church dominated by the bourgeoisie of 1999… The worsening economic situation will continue to trigger small to significant revolts centred around bread and butter issues … The challenge is to generalize and link such different small actions into broader, bigger and specific campaigns supported by all the various forces still ready to fight, whilst also linking these to the struggle for a new democratic and anti-capitalist constitution…In the immediate, the objectives of such struggles would include complete constitutional reform to expand democracy, legal institutions, nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy, land re-distribution and general subordination of private property to society’s needs. A central demand of the movement must be that harmonized elections be done by 2008 but only under a democratic, people driven and anti-ESAP constitution. If the regime rejects this … then the struggle must be shifted to all out mass action – jambanja or civil disobedience …a determined struggle to throw it out as has happened elsewhere. This must be the basis on which co-operation with the opposition parties must be built, but on the basis of an autonomous movement of working people and other radicals, so that when the political parties betray the struggle by entering deals with the dictatorship, as they are likely to, the struggle will continue…”
It would be a huge mistake to surrender leadership of such action to the opposition leadership, for “ … any strategy of fighting the dictatorship based on a movement dominated or controlled by the MDC (like the Save Zimbabwe Campaign) will remain prisoner to the glaring ideological and strategic confusion it has shown since 2000 and is bound to fail... Even if it should engage in some mass action …its primary pre-occupation is towards reaching a sell out settlement with the Zanu PF dictatorship that will not benefit the poor and working people… In other words to quote ZCTU president L. Matombo: ‘our goals are different. We see the product of this process as social revolution. They don’t.”
ISO Zim June 2007


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